Government of Canada To Open Data on Energy Use?

The Liberals Government has done squat in Regina since coming to power, when it comes to (hydro) power generation. I’ve produced over 5 MWh of solar power, and sent almost 3 MWh of that onto the electrical grid, while three layers of government in Regina have produced a whopping goose egg, 0 MWh.

“The Government of Canada is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions – which includes greening its own operations and making emissions data available to the public – in order to lower costs and leave a healthier, cleaner planet for our kids and grandkids.”

SaskPower Is Going To Miss Target

March 16, 2017
Dear Editor,
People should be asking how SaskPower intends to meet the 50% renewable electricity by 2030 target set by the Premier over a year ago. Since that announcement, a 350 MegaWatt (MW) natural gas burning plant has been planned for opening in 2019. A 170 MW wind installation is planned for southwest Saskatchewan. This week SaskPower is consulting with Saskatchewanians about a proposed 60 MW solar addition to the grid by 2021. And 1 MW of natural gas created by human activity at the Regina landfill, has just come online this month.
According to SaskPower, over 90% of the power produced within Saskatchewan comes from fossil fuel sources. We import hydro from Manitoba, and generate some in Saskatchewan. A bit more hydroelectricity is planned at Tazi Twe, to add 50 MW by 2019. A little more at Saskatoon’s delayed river hydro project.
Not to bore you with basic math, but 350-170-60-50+1 = 71 MW more will come from burning fossil fuels to be added to the grid within the next 4 years. Their “Renewables Roadmap” lists only 210 MW more for wind and solar to be called for by this quarter in their Request for Proposals. This leaves a huge renewable electricity shortfall to be fixed in the remaining 9 years. Does SaskPower have an answer to this? Does the Premier? Are they hoping no one notices?

SaskPower’s Power To Grow A Nose

SaskPower’s latest consultant on renewable energy might be Pinocchio.

Their misinformation about renewable energy intentionally leaves out the point that our power mix is not entirely coal, hydro, or natural gas today, so it wouldn’t make sense to power every aspect of our grid with only PV solar which presently depends upon storage to deliver power on very cloudy days and at night. We can however, use solar to reach 100% renewable power on our grid’s mix. I’ve previously outlined two plausible ways this could be done with existing technology.

Canada 100% Renewable Electricity by 2030?

Read this, and think of Energy East pipeline Brad Wall is pushing hard for.

Most of the globe’s coal, natural gas and oil investments will ultimately be affected by the transition, Seba suggest, at risk of becoming “stranded assets” — resources that lose their value before the expected end of their economic life.

“They are going to be stranded over the next five to 15 years,” he maintains. “It’s not going to take us over 40 years.”

Saskatchewan could strand assets, or we could build the future starting now.

Solutions Project calculates that 70 per cent of all the net new electricity generation in the U.S. last year was from wind and solar; another 25 per cent came from natural gas.

Meanwhile in Europe, Jacobson says if you look at the net gains minus losses, “100 per cent of new generation was from clean-energy sources.”

Here are some figures regarding present energy and electricity use across Canada.

And here’s a cool one about solar:

“At this point, 20 U.S. states have reached what economists call “grid parity” for solar power: the point at which solar energy costs no more than fossil fuels. Energy research company GTM estimates 42 states will reach that point by 2020.”

Stanford business professor Tony Seba, …whose advice has been sought in boardrooms from Tokyo to Paris, is confident that solar and wind are key to sweeping away the industrial age of transportation and energy — and fast. He suggests we can reach that magic number of 100 per cent within 15 years.

“The solar-installed capacity has doubled every two years since the year 2000. Doubled every two years,” he says. “If you keep doubling that capacity, all you need is seven more doublings in order for solar to be 100 per cent of the world’s energy supply.”

For math lightweights, that’s 7 times 2 years. 14 years from now is 2030. If you go out tonight and get pregnant, by the time the child becomes a teenager, Canada could have no coal plants, or natural gas plants in operation to produce our electricity. That’s awesome!

Boundary Dam 3 CCS Could have Cost Less and Been Solar

SaskPower writes about its comparably sized “clean coal” project:

This project transformed the aging [sic] Unit #3 at Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan, Saskatchewan into a reliable, long-term producer of up to 115 megawatts (MW) of base-load electricity, capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to one million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year, the equivalent of taking more than 250,000 cars off Saskatchewan roads annually.

– Emphasis mine.

Before the Boundary Dam CCS plant was to be built, CBC reported:

The new generating unit will have a capacity of 110 megawatts.

Q: But the sun doesn’t shine every day, and not at night. Clean Coal can be burned any time, right?

A: SaskPower admits:

Our [SaskPower’s] target is to operate [Boundary Dam CCS] for 85% of the hours in the year, leaving room for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.

Outside Las Vegas, see the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project

But a massive new solar plant, sprawling over 1,670 acres near Las Vegas, was designed to solve that problem. It provides energy on demand, even when it’s dark.

“Whether it’s in the daytime or the nighttime, it provides base-load stable power,” says Kevin Smith, CEO of SolarReserve, the company that built the new plant. “If you get a bit of cloud cover that goes across at three o’clock in the afternoon, we’re always drawing out of storage, so we continue to operate at 110 megawatts. We don’t miss a beat, and the utility doesn’t see any fluctuations in the power output over the day.”

-Emphasis again mine, to compare to Boundary Dam 3 CCS.

Q: But I thought solar couldn’t provide “baseload”, that’s what SaskPower says?

A: That will teach you how much you can trust a coal-burning utility company influenced by a political party who takes oil company donations.

The CCS plant cost SaskPower, its customers, and Canadian taxpayers $1.5 billion CAD.

Crescent Dunes cost around $1 billion [USD] to build.

At 2012 exchange rates, through to the present inequitable 140%, the most a Crescent Dunes style plant would have cost Saskatchewan for an equivalent CSP plant, would be the same $1.5 billion CAD we instead spent on Boundary Dam 3 CCS. SaskWind projects the CCS plant to lose taxpayers $1 billion in the coming decades, not counting the millions paid in penalties to Cenovus for failing to deliver greenhouse gas to them as promised.

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Canada Falling Behind in Renewable Energy Because It’s Never The Time For Wall

Wall said. “Our principle here … is that we do no further harm to an economy that already has its hands full.”

Canada is dropping behind its major trading partners in renewable energy investment, according to a study from a clean energy advocacy group.

Merran Smith of Clean Energy Canada suggests government-set targets and goals for wind and solar power in regional energy grids is the best way to spur that investment and keep Canada in the game.

“Clean energy is taking off around the world and in the countries that we consider our markets,” she said. “This is really a wake-up call for Canada.”

Wall has set an unambitious target of only 50% renewables by 2030.

“Premier Wall said last week that Ottawa might not be allowed to impose a carbon tax on electricity-utility SaskPower, because it’s a provincial Crown corporation.”

Here’s a better effort than some I’ve seen lately* from Regina journalism:

Cenovus Energy — the oil company that most benefits from the $1.5-billion carbon capture and storage experiment at Boundary Dam — is the Sask. Party’s biggest donor. It donated $14,618 to the party in 2014, $16,852 in 2013 and $16,020 in 2012. In its previous existence as Encana, it gave the Sask. Party more than $30,000 between 2007 and 2009.

If Wall is truly appalled by the costs consumers and business might have to pay for a “carbon tax,” shouldn’t he be equally appalled at the way oil companies gouge us at the pumps with near $1-a-litre gas when oil is at $30 to $40 U.S. a barrel?

[Wall’s] Sask. Party government passed (in the spring 2010 session) environmental legislation such as the Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Act.

… this Saskatchewan law would require large emitters to pay into a technology fund that would invest in technologies aimed at lower emissions. However, the Wall government hasn’t bothered to proclaim the law in regulations, largely because it said it needed to wait on Ottawa to move on its own carbon initiative.

Well, the federal government (now under the Liberals) is moving forward, so Wall owes us a bit more than that he won’t support “a carbon tax” because $30-a-barrel oil is not the right economic climate in which to discuss such laws.

And when the floods and/or forest fires hit Saskatchewan this Summer, it won’t be time to talk about the disasters in the context of climate change from our pollution contribution either. Continue reading